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The Still Small Voice

November 15th, 2016

toby-mac

The noisiness of your surroundings and the busyness of your schedule will impair your ability to hear the still small voice of God.

“The Lord said to Elijah, ‘Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by.’ Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper. When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave. Then a Voice said to him, ‘What are you doing here, Elijah?’” 1 Kings 19:11-13 (NIV). Only then did the Lord commission Elijah to anoint a king over Syria, a king over Israel, and to anoint Elisha as a prophet in Israel.

God has a purpose for your life and you will only discover His purpose when you make time and priority to listening for the voice of God, and obeying what He says. God can and will speak whenever He chooses, and whatever your circumstance, and wherever you may be. You and I have to come to a place where we can and will best listen for His voice.

God’s admonition remains, “Be still and know that I am God . . In quietness and confidence shall be your strength.” Draw aside and alone, and listen with your heart. You will hear God and know His voice.

I pray for you to draw aside today to be alone and attentive before God where you will quiet your heart to listen. God has the answers you seek. He has the wisdom you need. He has the direction you lack.

Christian Communications 2016

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Spiritual Practices

October 9th, 2015

“The Father has blessed us . . with every spiritual blessing in Christ.” Ephesians 1:3 NIV.

Essential spiritual practices necessitate leisure and solitude.

My thoughts and comments today are about “spiritual practices.”

Days can be busy and noisy, leaving you over-stimulated and weary. Everything seems rushed and everyone hurried. All too often, the urgent displaces the important. The pace of our lives and the noise of our surroundings diminish things vital to our well-being. More tragically, you can lose something of yourself somewhere in the noise and busyness. Unrelenting activity produces a confused identity. A conviction of spiritual identity provides: certainty about purpose, clarity of direction, and sufficiency of your God-given gifts and abilities. So much depends upon a true sense of your God-given identity.

Essential spiritual practices necessitate leisure and solitude. We are so much like the disciples – often busy and tired. Jesus invited His disciples, “Come with Me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.” Mark 6:31 NIV. Time alone with God is where you rediscover your identity in Christ. “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ.” Ephesians 1:3 NIV. In his epistles, Paul wrote prolifically about your life, “in Christ.” Read Ephesians 2:6-7 NIV.

Let me suggest Biblical disciplines that strengthen your spiritual identity. Begin with this. Practice Sabbath rest. The Sabbath principle incorporates the whole of one’s life before the Lord. All other spiritual disciplines begin and extend from a heart that practices the principle of Sabbath. More than a day set aside from usual and necessary activity, Sabbath is a deliberate time – without worry or hurry – to reorient your body, soul, and spirit with the Biblical practices that encourage and celebrate your faith. In Jesus, true Sabbath is found. Matthew 11:28-30 NIV.

Prioritize quiet and solitude. Practice to be quiet and content in God’s presence. “I have stilled and quieted my soul like a weaned child with his mother.” Psalm 131:1-2 NIV. Prioritize time in God’s Word. Psalm 1:1-3 NIV. Regular attention to the reading and meditation of Scripture is critically important. “Let the Word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom.” Colossians 3:16-17 NKJV. Prioritize prayer with thanksgiving. Communicating your heart and gratitude to God results in communion with God. “In everything, by prayer and thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” Philippians 4:6-7 NIV.

Prioritize Praise and Worship. Grow comfortable expressing your heart in joyful adoration. Psalm 100 NIV. Prioritize edifying Fellowship. You were made for community. Acts 2:46-47 NKJV. That is where you grow and serve best. “Let us not neglect our meeting together . . but encourage and warn one another.” Hebrews 10:24-25 NLT. Spiritual practices develop a life that abides in Christ, trusts His finished work on the cross, and celebrates your identity in Christ.

Today, I pray for you that your identity is rooted and built up in Christ Jesus.

Christian Communications

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Empty Lives

September 16th, 2015

“And of His fullness we have all received, and grace for grace.” John 1:16 NKJV.

Life without Jesus will never be all that life should be.

My thoughts and comments today are about “empty lives.”

As a child, life is exciting, exhilarating, and filled with anticipation – Christmas as a child – first day of school – first date – finally, your driver’s license – falling in love – being married – starting your career – raising a family. Life too quickly fills with responsibilities and routines, each day wearing away a little of the mysteries and wonder. School becomes homework and hard work. Dating becomes complicated, even confusing. A driver’s license involves gasoline, and insurance, and repairs. Falling in love eventually brings rent or mortgage, and bills.

Too soon, spontaneity yields to a schedule that becomes repetitive, and you find yourself trudging through life feeling that emptiness – a sense of “same old, same old” – with something deep inside telling you that life is not meant to be that way. A better life is waiting for you. “And of His fullness we have all received, and grace for grace.” John 1:16 NKJV. Jesus replaces empty lives with full hearts.

Life without Jesus as its center will never be all that you long for life to be. Nothing, absolutely nothing, can take His place or fill that void. You see, that emptiness you feel in your soul runs so deep. You cannot fill empty lives with stuff; you cannot silence it with noise; you cannot ignore it with busyness. “Man has a purpose – to be in relationship with God . . when he forgets his purpose he forgets who he is and what life means.” Francis Schaeffer, Theologian and Christian philosopher. Life does not work well when you forget who you are and what life means.

Life cannot be what it is meant to be if you leave God out. God alone makes sense of everything else about your life. Jesus said, “I have come that you might have life and have it more abundantly.” John 10:10 NKJV. God makes what you have enough. God makes relationships enriching. God makes who you are meaningful and satisfying. God makes what you do fulfilling. God fills your future with hope and unlimited possibilities. See Jeremiah 29:11 NLT.

The Bible narrative begins with these words, “In the beginning . . the earth was without form, and void, and darkness covered . . and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.” Genesis 1:1-2 NKJV. That is the way anyone’s life is until Jesus is invited to come in and set it right, and fill it with life and fullness, and give light and understanding. He is there, waiting for your invitation to do so today and every day that follows. “Until we all come to the knowledge of the Son of God . . to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.” Ephesians 4:13 NKJV.

The Apostle Paul described where you find a full heart and full life, “That Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith that you may know the love of Christ that passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.” Read Ephesians 3:14-19 NKJV. Don’t try to live life – even a moment of it – without Jesus filling your heart.

Today, I pray for you to make room for Jesus in everything you are and all you do.

Christian Communications 11309

 Empty Lives

Empty Lives

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Fatigue

February 27th, 2015

“Come to Me . . and you will find rest for your soul.” Matthew 11:29 NIV.

Weariness worsens when you do not know when or where you will again find rest.

My thoughts and comments today are about “fatigue.”

Vince Lombardi, famed coach of the Green Bay Packers said, “Fatigue makes cowards of us all.” No one can do their best or be their best when tired. Fatigue negatively impacts everything. Fatigue has been described as, “a shortness of breath in one’s soul.” That kind of describes it for me. When I grow tired, I am more negative, less prone to see solutions than problems. At such times, motivation is difficult to muster. I am less patient with myself and others. Fatigue adversely affects your emotions, attitudes, behavior, decisions, and relationships.

The busyness and unrelenting pace of daily life are exhausting. Everybody knows what it means to just feel tired of being tired. When fatigued, you are affected physically, emotionally, mentally, or spiritually. There is that which exhausts the soul as well as wearies the body. Everything grows more difficult; even things you would otherwise find enjoyable or easy are more taxing when tired. Weariness worsens when you do not know when or where you will again find rest.

The worst fatigue is beyond physical; it is a deep weariness of soul that only God can heal. Daniel prophesied of a future time which would, “wear out the saints of the Most High.” Daniel 7:25 KJV. Does that sound a bit like this generation? Keep your objectives clear; remember that reward and satisfaction follows obedience. God’s Word gives clear direction. Isaiah discovered, “This is the rest with which you may cause the weary to rest. This is the refreshing . . Those who wait upon God get fresh strength; they run and don’t get tired; they walk and don’t lag behind.” Isaiah 28:12/40:28-31 MSG. Time in God’s presence rejuvenates the soul. The practical exercises of prayer, Bible meditation, worship, singing, thanksgiving, confession, and personal reflection elevate and refresh the spirit of man. Practice those frequently and faithfully.

You were created to be productive, but God wisely built into your emotional and spiritual DNA the requirement for seasons of rest. “Six days you shall labor, but on the seventh day you shall rest; in the plowing season and in harvest you must rest.” Exodus 34:21 NIV. The busy, demanding times of planting, as well as harvest, would seem unlikely times for rest. Wouldn’t immediacy and importance of task dictate that you persevere? But God cautions that despite the urgency of preparing the soil for planting or when reaping the harvest, you need to follow the Sabbath principle of timely rest. The Sabbath principle is not a suggestion. God commanded, ”Remember the Sabbath, by keeping it holy.” Exodus 20:8 NIV. You ignore God’s instruction to your own harm.

Many things will deplete your inner resources, until you embrace God’s invitation, “Come to Me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest . . And you will find rest for your soul.” Read Matthew 11:28-30 NIV. Rest for your soul is the only cure for weariness of soul, and that rest is found through unhurried time with God. St. Augustine, Christian theologian (354-430 AD), is reported to have written, “My soul is not at peace until it finds its rest in Thee.” Maybe you have been looking in all the wrong places for what can only be found in God.

Today, my prayer for you is that you are confident where to find inner rest for your soul.

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Interruptions and Opportunities

May 16th, 2014

As we have opportunity, let us do good to all people.” Galatians 6:10 NIV.

Opportunities often appear as interruptions or inconveniences.

My thoughts and comments today are about “interruptions and opportunities.”

Good people do good things when they can and there are plenty of opportunities, if you are watching and wanting to do so. “The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart.” Luke 6:45 NIV. Can you remember how good you felt when someone was helpful and kind to you, when they weren’t obligated? There are people around you every day who would be encouraged by even the smallest act of kindness – a compliment, a thank you, a door held open, a smile, a helping hand, a gesture of concern, a kind note or call, or an offer of prayer. See Ephesians 2:10 NIV. When you see a need, is it an opportunity, or an interruption or inconvenience?

Paul’s instruction to the Church is clear, as is the reward, “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers . . Because you know that the Lord will reward everyone for whatever good he does.” Galatians 6:9-10 /Ephesians 6:8 NIV.

Usually, failure to do a good thing is not for lack of opportunity. And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.” 2 Corinthians 9:8 NIV. Why do we not do what we can when we could? I think the answer is simple: opportunities often appear as interruptions or inconveniences.

In the context of being neighborly, Jesus told the story of a Good Samaritan. Read Luke 10:30-37 NKJV. A man had been robbed, beaten, and left beside the road. A priest and a Levite actually paused long enough to see the man, but hurried on their way without helping. A Samaritan “saw him and had compassion on him. So he went to Him, bandaged his wounds . . and took care of him.” See Matthew 5:16 NIV.

I have over simplified the story for the sake of brevity. Were they afraid for their own safety? Were the religious men uncaring? Maybe to one it was an interruption to his plans, to another possibly an inconvenient time, but for the Samaritan this was an opportunity to do good. Solomon advised, “Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in the power of your hand to do so.” Proverbs 3:27 NKJV/James 4:17 NIV. It is likely the others’ lives were no busier than the man who stopped to help. Inattentiveness is often the culprit but busyness is the cause.

The deciding factor should always be: “Do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased.” Hebrews 13:16 NIV. Pleasing others is a trap; pleasing yourself is a dead end; pleasing God is rich with reward. Everyday, in ways large and small, there are opportunities to help. If you aren’t available to those opportunities that appear large, you probably will not recognize the ones that seem small. Jesus is your example; ”God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power, and He went around doing good . .” Acts 10:38 NIV. You are anointed to bless others.

My prayer for you today is that you will embrace every opportunity to do good.

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